Laura L. Murphy

Embracing complexity and promoting design capabilities for a better world

Hello!  This is the personal website of Laura L. Murphy. 

I am a transdisciplinary scholar based in New Orleans at Tulane University. 

I aspire to see more people embracing complexity and promoting design capabilities for a better world.

I have interests in human-environment interactions, livelihoods of the poor, and the social shaping of technologies, like mobile phones in Kenya and kitchen gardens in rural Africa. This led me to social innovation and design thinking. I teach design thinking so as to cultivate design capabilities to navigate complexity and address wicked problems.

My informal education: living and working around the world since the 1980s in private, government, non-profit and academic settings. My formal employment started with our family-run small Yosemite Airlines based in Columbia, California, from about 1975-79.

I worked with WALHI, the Indonesian Environmental Forum, in Jakarta from 1983-1986, and as a program officer at the Canadian High Commission in Kenya from 1988-1991. I helped start up the Population Environment Research Network around 2000-2002.

Highlights of informal employment in the caring economy have been cooking and raising a cool world-citizen son.

Find some of my presentations, articles and other materials under Projects. Find my course syllabi, workshops, etc. under Teaching & Learning. Find related Interests & Connections.

I welcome collaboration in research, teaching, and writing projects and I sometimes have funding, so please get in touch.

I have a faculty appointment at Tulane in the Department of Community Health and Behavioral Sciences (GCHB). Where I teach critical development theory and social innovation toolkit. I am affiliated with the Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane and offer a weekend workshop in field methods.

I serve as Associate Director of the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking (Taylor), where I lead our strategy, co-curricular teaching, and research around/on design for social impact as well as research and scholarship. 

My formal education includes a BS in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Values, Technology & Society (Stanford) and a doctorate (UNC-Chapel Hill) in City & Regional Planning.

Download my  recent CV.